Snow falls and melts, fog silently sweeps in then disappears, rain comes and goes, wind howls through the trees and sunshine warms the lakes and rivers. Through it all, we do what those before us have done for eighty years. We hike, we cook and we clean.
To some this may seem dull, but they haven’t stood on top of a Swiss alp on a crystal clear morning watching the piercing rays of the sun cut through the dusty grey of morning.
They haven’t seen the history hidden in the bomb shelter; a dusty leather bound book with crumbling photos hidden from but a few, gifts and artifacts tucked away in the distant past to remind the future why we’re here.
They haven’t experienced a dive into an ice covered lake that wakes every fiber of your being only to return a month later to enjoy a relaxing swim in its tadpole infested waters.
They haven’t tried taking an adrenaline inducing back flip off a bridge to the whoops and support of a dozen young guides.
They haven’t had dance parties on a slippery kitchen floor, rocking out to unlikely hits. Nor have they scaled the stairs in such unique ways as some who I now have the pleasure to call friends.
You learn a great deal about people here. After all, it is the people that make this place what it is. We say you must be mad to work here, and it’s true. The characters I’ve met in the past eight months have been as varied as their nationalities. Everyone has brought something different, leaving an impact on both those who visit and those who work in this crazy place.
Whether for better or worse, we’ve all come away with new perspectives, memories and ideas. I can’t and won’t say it’s all been fun. There have been differences of opinions, arguments, and what not, but we wouldn’t be able to learn and grow without them. Overall, the memories I’ll take away when I leave are of laughter, exciting firsts, and of friends I hope to meet again.
Though I am loath to leave, I know I will return. Not only do I have an existing pact with an old friend to one-day hike Loner together, I now have new friends to reunite with in the future and what better place then where it all started. Despite the fact that I’ve been here for a while, I have been unable to see and do everything on my to do list. It may be cliché but there truly is so much to do and so little time to do it. Oh well, someday.
I have gleaned some important lessons from this experience and learned a thing or two about myself at the same time. I now have a new appreciation for patience in its many forms. Everyone learns at a different speed, not everyone is comfortable in the kitchen, some are scared to take that second step on the high ropes course while with others you will never see eye to eye. All require patience and understanding, a kind word and a smile. I’m also trying to embrace the idea of “living in the moment” which I’ll admit has been hard for me. I’ve always liked having a plan and deviating from it was a terrifying thing. My time here has taught me to enjoy what happens as it happens.
I have had some truly incredible moments here in the last eight and a half months. I’ve been here so long that I’m now referred to as a piece of the furniture. I have realized my inner adrenaline junkie thanks to the pendulum swing. I sledded down a snow-covered mountain with nothing but rain trousers. I have survived a record braking fühn (wind storm) and helped clear up the carnage. I’ve seen where Moriarty met his doom and felt the mist from the falls. I have abseiled down the façade of Our Chalet armed to fix a broken light fixture. I have gone canyoning and klettersteiging and climbed to the tiptop of mountains. I have seen a valley so deeply buried in the mountains that its almost as if its been lost in time. I have worked with some wonderful people and had the privilege of leading some amazing young ladies on some exciting adventures.
I would like to thank Our Chalet for both the opportunities it has given me and the people who have made this experience unforgettable.
Here’s to the future and many more happy meetings.
‘Ta Ta for now’
Spring, Summer and Autumn Volunteer – USA
The view from my bedroom throughout the seasons!